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Tactcs, Ethics, and Acceptable Use on ColoradoPols.com

I ran across this “signature” line, or whatever it’s called, recently on this site:

“I would never want to be part of a club that would have you as a member” — JO  

1. There’s only one “JO” who appears here, it’s me; if there’s another famous “JO” I’d like to know who it is. (Maybe it’s me too.)

2. The quotation marks imply that I wrote the words; that’s what quotation marks are used for in the English language, for anyone who was absent from school the day that was taught.

3. While that statement may–may–be true for me in the case of the individual using it for a “signature,” I’m not aware of having written it.

4. No need to be uptight, although I’m not eager to have people in general attributing quotations to me that I didn’t write. Some might be flattered to have a supposed quotation adapted by a pseudononymous user in this particular way. In this particular case…. well, I don’t think this particular technicolor user was trying to pay a compliment, and I’m hardly flattered to be associated with the rest of this particular sigline. If he/she needs, I did provide some suitable descriptive terms in a posting the other day. Feel free, with attribution.

If that practice is okay with the proprietors of this site, especially when it references contributors to this site, then LET IT BE KNOWN RIGHT HERE. It certainly entertains a lot more interesting possibilities: made-up quotes attributed to other site users as part of sign-off lines. Hmmmmm.

[Note that silence implies consent in Anglo-American jurisprudence.]

ColoradoPols.com–Kindle Edition?

Unbeknownst to us, apparently you can buy a “subscription” to Colorado Pols for your Amazon Kindle:

Product Description

Colorado’s most-read political blog, featuring news, opinion and inside information from both sides of the political aisle.

Kindle blogs are fully downloaded onto your Kindle so you can read them even when you’re not wirelessly connected. And unlike RSS readers which often only provide headlines, blogs on Kindle give you full text content and images, and are updated wirelessly throughout the day.

We knew nothing about this, but we’re #15 in the Kindle Blogs U.S. News, Politics & Opinion category–below such luminaries as AmericaBlog but interestingly more popular than Washington Post’s The Trail.

And no, nobody’s explained to us how we might potentially make some money off of this “subscription,” but we’re open to suggestions.

Coloradopols.com disturbs Owens sleep every 36 hours. John Andrews decries Liberal zillionaires!

“Liberal zillionaires buying Colorado politics” is the banner on Andrews’ website, that links to the full article from the National Review:
http://backboneameri…

These liberal “zillionaires” have, as the article reads, “. . . established several websites, including ColoradoPols.com, that have started to shape political coverage in the state. ‘I can’t tell you how often reporters would call 36 hours after something appeared there,’ says . . . (Governor) . . . Owens.”

Gee, Bill.  You need to change your phone number!

Dang, John.  Aren’t you being hypocritical? What the hell you got to say about Pat Toomey and the Club for Growth whose East Coast mongo-mega-zillionaires bought Lamborn’s seat with lies and lawyers, and bought the Republicans minority status in the U.S. Senate?  Quit your whining, John, and turn your attacks toward your RINO friends like Pat Toomey. 

“Our Mission is not to help Republicans
hold onto the majority.”
Pat Toomey, President, Club for Growth
National Journal, March 23, 2006
http://www.republica…
http://www.google.co…

Yet Another Petition Signature Mess in Colorado

Artist rendering of the inside of the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

Corey Hutchins of the Colorado Independent reported yesterday on the latest news from the Colorado Secretary of State’s (SOS) office regarding the validity of petitions for access to the June Primary ballot. The key points in the story are buried a bit by a broader headline and lede about the April 27th deadline for the SOS to verify signatures and finalize the ballot, but there’s no question that this is another 2016-esque mess:

Rules in the petition-gathering game stipulate that if a voter signs petitions for two candidates, the signatures only count for the candidate who hands in his or her petitions first. On the Republican side, Stapleton handed in petitions just before Robinson, but then last week (because of Robinson— long story) he wound up admitting fraud in his gathering process and asked the Secretary of State’s office to scrap them. Stapleton’s only shot for the ballot was to go through Saturday’s assembly, which he successfully did. In a way, that sounded like good news for Robinson— Stapleton’s signatures might not count against his.

Not so fast.

Even though Stapleton asked for his petitions to be pulled, the signatures on them still count since the Secretary of State already had determined they were sufficient, said Secretary of State spokeswoman Lynn Bartels. [Pols emphasis]

That leaves a slimmer margin of error for the Robinson team as workers in an office building in Pueblo double-check his signatures to make sure they are valid and don’t include Republicans who already signed for Stapleton.

What???

Republican gubernatorial candidates Victor Mitchell (left) and Mitt Romney’s Nephew have a significant stake in the latest ruling from SOS Wayne Williams.

According to the SOS office, signatures for Walker Stapleton are still officially valid even though Stapleton raised his own alert about potential signature fraud and asked that his name be withdrawn as a candidate seeking ballot access through the petition process (Stapleton will be on the June Primary ballot anyway after capturing top-line at the Republican state assembly last weekend). Stapleton formally asked Secretary of State Wayne Williams to remove his name from the petition process just last week, which came a few days after Stapleton got word from the SOS that his campaign had in fact gathered enough valid signatures for ballot access.

Williams spun hard to cover his own ass after Stapleton’s campaign essentially admitted that many of its signatures were probably fraudulent…but now he’s saying that all of those signatures will still be counted as valid. This ruling is completely absurd in its own right, but the logic breaks down even further in regard to the gubernatorial campaign of Democrat Donna Lynne:

On the Democratic side, the same rules are working in Lynne’s favor.

Polis, whose campaign fanned the state and hoovered up some 30,000 signatures— far more than the 10,500 he needed— seemed like he could have been also creating a bit of a defense shield with them. Remember, signatures of voters who sign only count for the first candidate to turn them in. Polis turned his in before Lynne, slimming her margin of error.

But.

Polis then decided to also go through Saturday’s assembly, where he earned himself a spot on the ballot by getting more than 30 percent of the vote among delegates. Polis’s signatures were still being counted at the time he won, and as soon as he made the ballot through the assembly, the Secretary of State’s office stopped counting them.

That means all of Polis’s 30,000 signatures are back in circulation— and are now able to count for Lynne.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams (R-Disaster).

Let’s recap what we’ve learned here. The SOS’ office is saying that Walker Stapleton’s petition signatures are still valid — even though he’s on the ballot through the assembly process — which is relevant because it means that Republican candidates such as Mitt Romney’s Nephew (Robinson) and Victor Mitchell cannot use any of those names for their own signature verification needs. In the same breath, however, the SOS says that signatures for Jared Polis will not be considered valid — because Polis is also on the ballot through the assembly process — which means that Donna Lynne doesn’t have to worry about signatures being double-counted from Polis’ submissions.

How does this make any logical sense whatsoever?

For his part, SOS Williams is passing the buck, telling the Independent that he was only following rules that say a candidate’s signatures must be counted if…they were already counted? “That is a bright line rule and that’s what we’re following,” says Williams in a comment that would only make sense if, in fact, there were any “bright lines” to be examined in this mess.

What Williams has really done here is to issue a ruling that completely upends the signature counting process for a number of statewide campaigns. We would expect to see a barrage of lawsuits coming — both from Republicans and Democrats — because Williams’ ruling could very well keep one or more gubernatorial candidates off the June Primary ballot altogether. The state legislature, meanwhile, probably needs to add another bill to its to-do list in an effort to prevent this lunacy from happening again in 2020.

Did we mention that the June Primary ballot is supposed to be certified seven days from now? We did?

Ugh.

Why the Culture of Sexual Harassment Persists in Colorado Legislature

Someday Colorado Republicans will run a candidate named “Drew Process.”

There was an interesting vote in the State House today that broke down along party lines. The outcome of that vote speaks loudly as to why a culture of sexual harassment at the State Capitol remains largely unchecked.

House Bill 18-1391 passed out of the lower chamber on Wednesday despite opposition from the entire Republican caucus. What is HB18-1391, you ask? Here’s how Jesse Paul of the Denver Post explained the legislation earlier this week:

House Bill 1391  requires that each higher-education institution adopt — and periodically review — a sexual misconduct policy that includes reporting options and procedures for investigations and judgments, and protections for accusers and alleged attackers.

It also would bar the use of an accuser’s sexual history in adjudication proceedings, ensure there is a confidential reporting process, prohibit retaliation, require timely case updates to those involved and encourage prompt resolutions.

Basically, HB18-1391 would do for Colorado colleges and universities something that Republican lawmakers have consistently opposed under the Gold Dome: It would clarify and modernize sexual misconduct policies.

“Retaliation is a serious problem and a fear of retaliation prevents issues from surfacing, keeps people from raising problems and enables a culture of harassment to fester.”

— Report on sexual harassment at State Capitol by the Investigations Law Group.

House Republicans wanted nothing to do with this bill for reasons they will have to explain to others (and themselves) at some other time. That the GOP would much rather hide behind the curtain of “due process” than do anything to actually reduce sexual misconduct or harassment is a major reason why this new story from KUNC’s Bente Birkeland can still be written:

An outside consultant, who studied workplace culture at the state Capitol, found nearly half of the roughly 500 people surveyed had witnessed sexist and/or seriously disrespectful behavior. A third said they had experienced sexual harassment first-hand. And nearly 90 percent of those who say they were harassed didn’t speak out or file a complaint. Many said they feared retaliation from their accusers and others.

Those findings, by the Investigations Law Group, mirror what we’ve discovered in almost six months of reporting on this issue.

Our sources — both named and unnamed — say the Capitol’s culture needs to improve. They want elected officials to be held to a high standard, but most don’t want to go public or file a formal complaint, fearing it will cost them professionally, or even personally. [Pols emphasis]

Those that are fearful include four current and former Republican female staffers who are now sharing their allegations of inappropriate behavior by Sen. Randy Baumgardner, a Hot Sulphur Springs Republican. Joining them are four more current and former GOP staffers – three men and one woman – who say they witnessed or were aware of complaints about Baumgardner’s behavior.

Senate President Kevin Grantham

Why would anyone feel safe to address sexual harassment in the State Capitol when House Republicans vote against a bill to clarify sexual misconduct policies at higher-education institutions in Colorado? Why would anyone not worry about retaliation when Senate President Kevin Grantham is more interested in blaming investigators and casting doubt on victims that making any real effort to clean things up in his caucus?

Grantham told Birkeland that he was “not aware of any other concerns” involving Sen. Randy Baumgarder, who was nearly expelled from the legislature earlier this month because of multiple claims of sexual harassment. Grantham has previously insisted that he was unaware of rumors about Baumgardner’s handsiness at the Capitol. To understand what makes these statements such a problem, let’s back up to an earlier paragraph in the KUNC story:

Historically, many complaints have been handled informally. One woman told us she complained in 2012 to then-chief of Staff Jesse Mallory that Baumgardner gave her long and unwanted hugs each day. The Senate minority leader at the time, Bill Cadman, allegedly barred Baumgardner from hugging staffers at work. Cadman did not return our requests to comment for this story. [Pols emphasis]

Grantham was a member of the Senate leadership in 2012. Perhaps this story is completely untrue, but if it’s not, it says a couple of bad things about the Senate President: Grantham is either willfully ignorant or horribly uninformed. Or, perhaps both. None of these answers are good.

The culture of sexual harassment in the State Capitol will not be fully addressed this session:

Instead, legislative leaders have decided to create a committee of lawmakers to study the issue over the summer and make recommendations for the 2019 legislative session. The consultant advised action this session, and some people both in and outside of the Capitol were disappointed by the delay.

“There’s an argument that says let’s get it right, let’s not rush into action,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper. “That being said, there needs to be a sense of urgency.”

That ridiculous quote from Gov. Hickenlooper is a problem in itself. The legislature hired an outside firm to conduct an investigation, and that firm recommended that the legislature take action this session. The State needs stronger leadership in order to insist that changes be made swiftly. It’s unrealistic to expect that lawmakers will ever get a new policy exactly right; that isn’t a reason to wait — it’s an excuse to punt. The perfect cannot be allowed to become the enemy of the good.

There are a lot of reasons why a culture of sexual harassment has been allowed to fester in the State Capitol. There are also many reasons why this is a problem that won’t be solved in 2018.

A lot of these are the same reasons.

Sean Hannity is Trump’s Other Chief of Staff

Thumbs up all around! Sean Hannity with Donald Trump (top) and Trump Attorney Michael Cohen (bottom)

Fox News talking head Sean Hannity was revealed earlier this week as “mystery client #3” in a court hearing for Donald Trump’s personal attorney/fixer Michael Cohen. But as the Washington Post reports today, Hannity and Trump share much more than Cohen’s cell phone number:

The phone calls between President Trump and Sean Hannity come early in the morning or late at night, after the Fox News host goes off the air. They discuss ideas for Hannity’s show, Trump’s frustration with the ongoing special counsel probe and even, at times, what the president should tweet, according to people familiar with the conversations. When he’s off the phone, Trump is known to cite Hannity when he talks with White House advisers.

The revelation this week that the two men share an attorney is just the latest sign of how Hannity is intertwined with Trump’s world — an increasingly powerful confidant who offers the ­media-driven president a sympathetic ear and shared grievances. The conservative commentator is so close to Trump that some White House aides have dubbed him the unofficial chief of staff…

…Trump and Hannity usually speak several times a week, according to people familiar with their relationship. The Fox News host, whose show averages more than 3 million viewers daily, is one of the few people who gets patched immediately to Trump. The two men review news stories and aspects of Hannity’s show, and occasionally debate specifics about whatever the president is considering typing out on Twitter. There have also been times when Trump has assessed the merits of various White House aides with Hannity.

The frequency of Hannity’s contact with Trump means that “he basically has a desk in the place,” one presidential adviser said.

Hannity and White House officials did not respond to requests for comment.

President Trump often promotes Hannity and his show via Twitter, which was weird well before this information about their cozy relationship came to light. If you’re wondering where to draw the line between the Trump administration and Fox News…well, you’re not alone.

Top Two Republicans for Governor Have Criminal Records

On the ballot? Check.

Criminal record? Check.

‘Lopez said he has also been charged with “a DUI and I think everybody knows that,” although he said he couldn’t recall when the incident occurred.’

Denver Post, 4/18/18

The above Tweet by Denver Post reporter John Frank points to a story by Mark Matthews about Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Lopez, who was one of the big surprises from last weekend’s GOP assembly when he picked up more than 30% of the vote to make the June Primary ballot. Readers of Colorado Pols are already familiar with Lopez’s checkered background, but he’s getting more notice now that he is officially on the ballot with Republican frontrunner Walker Stapleton. Of course, Stapleton also has a criminal record for a DUI in a hit-and-run case that was thrust into the spotlight again on Saturday when Attorney General Cynthia Coffman brought it up on stage.

As Matthews writes for the Denver Post, Lopez has plenty of skeletons in his closet:

But if the former two-term mayor of Parker wants to become Colorado’s first Latino governor, he and his cash-strapped campaign probably will have to find another gear to capture the June 26 primary and the Nov. 6 general election.

Along the way, Lopez also will have to contend with questions about his past, notably charges of domestic violence and driving under the influence, as well as his management of the Colorado office of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Lopez’s time at the U.S. Small Business Administration — which he regularly touts on the campaign trail — was not particularly smooth sailing:

During his tenure, the office was audited by the SBA’s inspector general, the agency’s internal watchdog. Although a number of complaints that prompted the review weren’t substantiated, investigators noted the branch “did not function as well as it should to provide consistent and worthwhile assistance to some of the companies” in its portfolio of small, disadvantaged businesses.

As examples, the report cited slow responses and a lack of accessibility. Customers “complained that district officials would not return their phone calls or meet with them despite persistent requests, and that from August to October 2009 their access to the district office was restricted to only two days a week and by appointment only,” investigators wrote.

The Republican ballot for Governor could soon double in size; both Victor Mitchell and Mitt Romney’s Nephew are awaiting word from the Colorado Secretary of State on the validity of petitions they submitted in March for ballot access.

In other words, there is still hope for Republicans that they might be able to choose a non-criminal for Governor in June.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush Has Died

From ABC News:

Former first lady Barbara Bush died Tuesday at her home in Houston, Texas. She was 92.

“A former first lady of the United States of America and relentless proponent of family literacy, Barbara Pierce Bush passed away Tuesday, April 17, 2018, at the age of 92,” reads a statement from the office of former President George H.W. Bush.

Bush passed away shortly after deciding to forgo further medical treatments for her failing health.

Having been hospitalized numerous times while battling congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, she decided Sunday that she wanted to be “surrounded by a family she adores,” according to an earlier statement released by Mr. Bush’s office.

White House, Nikki Haley Exchange Barbs

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley is the latest top official at odds with the White House

As CNN reports, another top Trump administration official is in the doghouse:

A consensus emerged Tuesday at the White House and Mar-a-Lago about how to clean up the administration’s suddenly muddled plans to crack down on Russia: Blame Nikki Haley.

Several administration officials said the US ambassador to the United Nations got ahead of President Donald Trump’s decision-making when she hit the Sunday talk show circuit and said the US would level new sanctions the next day targeting Russian companies that facilitated the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons program. The sanctions have yet to come.

“She got ahead of the curve,” National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told reporters on Tuesday near the President’s Florida estate, a day after a report claiming Trump “put the brakes” on plans for new Russia sanctions. “She’s done a great job, she’s a very effective ambassador. There might have been some momentary confusion about that.”

Haley struck back with a stunning statement later in the day that opened a new rift in the administration and raised questions about the White House’s explanation of her comments.

“With all due respect, I don’t get confused,” she said in a statement obtained by CNN’s Jake Tapper.

Kudlow says that he later called Haley to apologize, but there is clearly a great deal of tension with President Trump regarding potential plans for new Russia sanctions.

Associated Press Won’t Highlight Polling Numbers Anymore

New AP guidelines seek do de-emphasize the polling “horse race”

The Associated Press today issued new guidelines for how it covers polling data in political races. As Politico explains:

The updated guidelines appear in a new chapter in the AP Stylebook — which forms the backbone of the standards used not just by the AP, but by the majority of news organizations around the country…

…That means, according to the AP, de-emphasizing the horse-race aspects of election coverage and taking care to write about only high-quality polls…

The AP has long discouraged its journalists from predicating stories an entire story on a pre-election poll, but that’s now a bright-line rule, positioned right at the top of the new chapter: “Poll results that seek to preview the outcome of an election must never be the lead, headline or single subject of any story.” [Pols emphasis]

 

This new AP guideline is a significant change that could have a real impact on the coverage of political races throughout the country. Polling data has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, particularly as more and more Americans disconnect from telephone landlines and become harder for pollsters to reach.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (April 17)

Happy Tax Day! Watch out for those technical difficulties when filing your taxes. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY… 

► Colorado teachers took their call for better pay and benefits to the State Capitol on Monday. As Blair Miller and Marc Stewart report for Denver7:

Dozens of Colorado public school teachers descended Monday on the state Capitol to demand better pay and pensions as lawmakers inside debated their future retirement benefit program.

Englewood Schools were closed for the day as most of the school’s teachers joined the rally. The educators are the latest across the U.S. who have joined public walkouts to call for higher wages for public school teachers

The CEA estimates that Colorado teachers spend $656 of their own money for school supplies for students each year, and the average teacher salary here ranks 46th among U.S. states and Washington, D.C., according to the National Education Association. [Pols emphasis]

For a great explanation of how and why Colorado teachers are so underpaid, check out this story from Denver7 reporter Jennifer Kovaleski:

The latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, Education Week; Quality Counts, and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) show Colorado ranks 42nd in how much it spends per student, roughly $2,500 less than the national average.

Which means despite being the nation’s 12th richest state, our public schools land at the bottom of the list for both per pupil spending and teacher pay.

 

Something smells in Yuma, Colorado, where Sheriff Chad Day appears to have accepted and $62,000 truck and other “donations” to the Sheriff’s department so that billionaire right-wing donor Robert Mercer can be a “volunteer sheriff’s deputy” in Yuma County — with the primary purpose of skirting gun laws so that Mercer can carry a concealed weapon anywhere in the country.

 

► President Trump overruled advisers and decided to scrap proposed sanctions on Russia. As the New York Times reports:

President Trump rejected, for now at least, a fresh round of sanctions set to be imposed against Russia on Monday, a course change that underscored the schism between the president and his national security team.

The president’s ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, had announced on Sunday that the administration would place sanctions on Russian companies found to be assisting Syria’s chemical weapons program. The sanctions were listed on a menu of further government options after an American-led airstrike on Syria, retaliating against a suspected gas attack that killed dozens a week earlier.

But the White House contradicted her on Monday, saying that Mr. Trump had not approved additional measures.

“We are considering additional sanctions on Russia and a decision will be made in the near future,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said in a statement.

Perhaps Trump received a weekend phone call from his Uncle Putin.

 

► President Trump has yet to announce a replacement for Communications Director Hope Hicks, who announced in February that she would be leaving the White House. As the Washington Post reports, that may be because Trump has decided to just do the job himself:

He drafts talking points. He organizes surrogates. He oversees rapid response. He maintains relationships with key media figures over dinners, rounds of golf and long phone calls. And, of course, he manages his own social media presence.

Since the 2016 election, five people have now done six stints as Trump’s communications director. One reason it’s an impossible job is that the former reality television star who occupies the Oval Office will always consider himself his own best spokesman.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Robert Mercer is a Volunteer Sheriff in Yuma (No, Really)

UPDATE: Blair Miller of Denver7 catches up with Yuma County Sheriff Chad Day and asks for some clarifications that never come:

In an interview Monday, Day didn’t deny using the LEEF grants or having a volunteer program like the “sheriff’s posse.” But on multiple occasions, he declined to say who worked as volunteers, though he denied having any sort of tit-for-tat arrangement with Mercer or LEEF.

“To be clear, there certainly is no quid pro quo arrangement,” Day told Denver7.

He said a friend of his told him about the LEEF grants, and that he’d applied and been awarded several of the projects he’d applied for. An archived LEEF website notes that its mission is to “help law enforcement officers and agencies in training, equipment, matching funds and family line-of-duty funds grant.”

“They certainly weren’t some sort of trade for volunteer work,” Day said. “[The writer’s] assertion was that I was granting [LEOSA] status in exchange for those things…that’s not true.”

Miller had less luck hearing back from the attorney for the Yuma County Sheriff’s office…

Lees did not respond to a phone message left Monday requesting further clarification the statements attributed to him by Bloomberg.

…or from Mercer:

A spokesperson at Renaissance Technologies, where Mercer is still employed, declined to comment Monday. An email to Mercer requesting comment was not returned. Requests for comment made to the LEEF also went unreturned Monday.

Sheriff day was adamant to Blair that Mercer would or did not receive any “special treatment.”

Oh, and guess who else didn’t have a comment?

Yuma is also home to Colorado’s Republican U.S. Senator, Cory Gardner, whose spokesman said he didn’t know anything about the story aside from what he’d read in Bloomberg. [Pols emphasis]

—–

Billionaire right-wing donor Robert Mercer is apparently a volunteer sheriff’s deputy in Yuma County, Colorado — largely so he can legally carry a gun wherever he goes.

Bloomberg News has a story today about a new “sheriff” in town by the name of Robert Mercer (yes, the very same):

For most of the past six years, Mercer was a volunteer policeman in the tiny town of Lake Arthur, New Mexico, an arrangement that allowed him to carry a concealed weapon in any U.S. state under a law that applies only to law-enforcement officers. As Bloomberg Businessweek reported last month, Mercer gave up his New Mexico badge for undisclosed reasons in September. The mayor of Lake Arthur shut the volunteer program last week.

But the 71-year-old financier is still in the law-enforcement game. Last week, a lawyer for the office of Sheriff Chad Day of Yuma County, Colorado, confirmed that Mercer is a volunteer member of the agency. [Pols emphasis]

“From time to time, he serves in certain roles as designated by the sheriff,” said the lawyer, Robert Lees, who also helped set up the sheriff’s volunteer posse. Yuma is a rural county with a population of about 10,000 that borders Nebraska and Kansas.

You really need to read this entire story for yourself. There are a lot of unanswered questions here that will almost certainly be fodder for future news stories (Vanity Fair has already picked up on the Bloomberg story).

Cory Gardner with Dudley Brown of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

Mercer is the hedge-fund billionaire who spent a great deal of money helping to elect Donald Trump, after his initial crush, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, fizzled out. Mercer is thought to be the single-biggest individual donor in the 2016 election cycle, and his money has funded a variety of right-wing interests from Breitbart News to Cambridge Analytica to whatever weird crap Steve Bannon was concocting.

In 2016, Mercer’s foundation bought a brand-new Dodge Ram 1500 Limited pickup truck for the Yuma County Sheriff’s “official use.” Mercer’s “Law Enforcement Education Foundation” has also donated $20,000 worth of tasers to Yuma County, and Yuma Sheriff Chad Day says that he is hopeful that they will receive a grant to buy a bunch of new handguns.

In exchange for this generosity, Yuma County rounded up itself a posse:

Lees confirmed that two Mercer associates, George Wells and Peter Pukish, had also joined the sheriff’s office. Both men had previously volunteered alongside Mercer in New Mexico. Wells is Mercer’s son-in-law, and Pukish is a family friend and longtime employee. Both are officers of the Law Enforcement Education Foundation. Wells and Pukish didn’t respond to requests for comment.

“In addition to whatever donations they made, these people bring certain qualifications to the table,” Lees said of the three men.

The Yuma County posse has about two dozen members, Day said, of whom seven or eight live outside the county. [Pols emphasis] He said some but not all posse members qualify for privileges under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act, the 2004 federal law that allows officers to carry concealed weapons nationwide.

Yuma County Sheriff Chad Day

The Yuma County Sheriff’s office only has about seven 21 employees in total, though the city of Yuma has its own police department. According to Bloomberg, Mercer was connected to Day via Rocky Mountain Gun Owners head honcho Dudley Brown. Reporters Zachary Mider and Zeke Faux apparently didn’t realize — or declined to mention — that Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner just so happens to be from…Yuma, Colorado. It’s no secret that Gardner has been having a hell of a time raising money for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC); it’s probably a good guess that this little arrangement helps open Mercer’s checkbook. Or, maybe this is all just a really weird coincidence.

This is a pretty incredible tale, and here’s the cherry on top:

Sheriff Day rejected a Bloomberg News request this month under Colorado’s public-records law for documents relating to Mercer and his associates, including information on their qualifications and duties. He said disclosing the names of volunteers could endanger their safety.

“Some of my volunteer resources are directly involved in confidential undercover operations that involve direct ties and associations with the Mexican Cartel which has a presence in my area,” Day wrote in an earlier email. “It would not be safe tactically or personally to identify individuals who serve in association with those types of cases.” [Pols emphasis]

According to the sheriff of Yuma County, billionaire right-wing donor Robert Mercer is a key cog in confidential undercover operations involving the Mexican Cartel, and that’s why he gets to carry a concealed weapon wherever he goes.

Sure thing.

ICYMI: Beyond the Headlines from State Assemblies

Both Democrats and Republicans held their state conventions/assemblies on Saturday. While you’ve probably seen the headlines from everything that happened over the weekend – including multiple Congressional District assemblies last Thursday and Friday – there are a lot of secondary stories that you may have missed. Let’s get you caught up…

 

“When President Trump Says Something, He Really Means It!”
This is an actual quote from Rep. Mike Coffman’s speech at the State Republican assembly on Saturday. You might remember that Coffman spoke out forcefullyabout challenging Trump during the 2016 election, but that was back when it seemed improbable that Trump might be elected President. Coffman has since decidedthat he needs to work with Trumpand has even warmed to the idea of campaigningwith Trump in 2018. Coffman’s backpedaling reached its apex on Saturday when he thoroughly buried his face in Trump’s backside.

 

Greg Lopez: Not Walker Stapleton
Former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez managed to surpass 30% of the vote at the GOP state assembly on Saturday to formally get his name on the ballot in June. Up until Saturday, the only thing anybody really knew about Lopez is that he was one of the first politicians to actually answer the question, “When did you stop beating your wife?”

According to Michael Roberts at Westword, Lopez finds his name on the ballot because of a rousing speech he delivered on Saturday. This is a nice story, but it’s not particularly accurate (watch Lopez’s nothingburger speechyourself). The reason Lopez is on the ballot is because other Republican gubernatorial candidates decided that Lopez was their best potential foil for Stapleton on Saturday. In an interview last week on “The Ross Kaminsky Show,” Mitt Romney’s Nephew let slip that he planned to vote for Lopez (Mitt’s Nephew was a delegate himself, but is seeking to make the GOP Primary ballot for Governor via the petition route). Lopez became the go-to candidate for Republican delegates who didn’t want Walker Stapleton to run away with the vote at the state assembly, and that’s why he’ll be on the ballot in June.

 

Walker Stapleton Talks Abortion
This might not seem like a big deal, but Republican gubernatorial frontrunner Walker Stapleton has rarely brought up his positions on abortion in the past. On Saturday, Stapleton’s speech to Republican delegates included a line about protecting children “born and unborn,” which is about as far as he’s ever gone (publicly) on this issue. Stapleton still has a long way to go to make up with Republicans on a number of issues.

 

Stapleton and Tancredo, for Better or Worse
Last week former Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo made the surprise announcementthat he would endorse Stapleton for the GOP nomination for Governor. On Saturday, Tancredo did one better by taking the stage himself to nominateStapleton. Having Tancredo’s support no doubt helped Stapleton with the GOP delegate crowd, but this may turn into quite the albatross for Stapleton in a General Election. There’s no going back now – take a look at the digital ad (right) that circulated on Saturday from “Better Colorado Now,” a SuperPAC that exists ostensibly to support Stapleton’s bid for Governor.

 

Judy Reyher Gets 2ndPlace
Republican state Rep. Judy Reyherand her Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat won’t be top line on the GOP Primary ballot in June. Republican Don Bendell outpolled Reyher at the HD-47 GOP assembly on Friday.